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FIA Saturday press conference - Spain, part 1 03 May 2003

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari F2003-GA.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, 3 May 2003

1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1m17.762s
2. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1m18.020s (+ 0.258s)
3. Fernando ALONSO (RENAULT), 1m18.233s (+ 0.471s)

Published with permission from the Federation Internationale de l' Automobile.

Q: Michael, you were slightly down on Rubens at the beginning of the lap. Did you know that in the car?

Michael SCHUMACHER: No. We don't have the ability to know exactly the sector times. We have our personal sector times but they don't always compare to what Rubens uses, for example. So you just go for the best and see what you get out of it.

Q: Did it feel like a lap where you were maybe down at the beginning and picked up a lot of speed towards the end?

MS: No, actually I thought I lost in the middle and in the end of the lap. In turn nine, I didn't get a good line and turn eleven wasn't the best. The first sector was reasonable honestly, but all weekend Rubens has been very good and very fast so I was thinking well, I might have to stick with a position behind him but it turned out to be better.

Q: Tell us about the new car, it's been very quick all weekend, tell us about the build-up to the weekend as well?

MS: Yeah, I imagine it's been a tough time for everyone in the team to get the car here and ready and, naturally, the first time you come here with a new car there's a lot of extra work, a lot of things to do, to look at and to control, and the guys have done a fantastic job. Although the car is basically three months old for us, a race is a different situation and the guys have done a fantastic job, honestly. We knew, all the time, that the car was a step forward and finally we have been able to prove that with official times.

Q: Can you try to put into words the differences between this car and last year's car in terms of driving the lap?

MS: It's faster.

Q: ... and the balance, and the feel?

MS: You know with a race car, you aim to have a more neutral car and a more faster car and there's not one sector we have improved in particular, we have improved in all the areas. Each engineer, each mechanic has made his contribution and worked on each detail and that's what has made the car so special although if you imagine the car that we had last year, you have to be impressed with the effort those guys have made.

Q: He was probably joking, but yesterday Juan Pablo Montoya said that he was surprised the new Ferrari wasn't a little bit quicker. Do you think we've seen the exact potential of the car today?

MS: I think what we have seen over the weekend is that whoever runs first in qualifying, suffers quite a bit because the circuit really improves quite a bit towards the end and we were one of the first drivers out yesterday, and I think you see a little bit more what the situation is now, and you will see the true potential what the car can do tomorrow.

Q: Rubens, you said yesterday that you had Michael's seat and his throttle pedal. Did you have that today as well?

Rubens BARRICHELLO: No, no. Today everything was fine. I had my race car and everything worked quite well.

Q: Tell us about that lap and how it was from your point of view?

RB: Well actually, it wasn't a good lap. I was just happy. It's a fantastic start to the new car, first and second on the grid and a track on which we believe we go quite well. But my lap itself wasn't brilliant, it was a compromise today in between going very fast on the limit and being cautious because just off line is quite dusty, as we saw with Kimi today, he ran off. But putting everything into a balance, I think it's quite positive and the way that we think the strategy turns out I think will be quite positive.

Q: We saw some interesting strategies at Imola, particularly with Renault qualifying with a three stop fuel load and doing a two stop race. Has that changed the way teams are going to approach these new regulations?

RB: Well, there's obviously a change because you cannot do everything by yourself. You have to consider the other teams because when you want to play with the strategy, you have to know where you are going to be sitting, so it's a more complicated business than it used to be in a way.

Q: Fernando, a great start to the season and now third on the grid for your home Grand Prix. Tell us about you feelings and emotions at this stage?

Fernando ALONSO: Yeah, the feeling is obviously very special here in Barcelona, to be fighting with the top teams like Ferrari in the last ten minutes of qualifying. It's great for me to be here in Barcelona in front of my people and trying to get this kind of result. Tomorrow I hope to do a good race, score more points. Our race won't be winning, obviously, but I think we've been very strong all weekend, the team, Jarno and me, and tomorrow we have a very good chance to score many points.

Q: As Michael said, the track was getting quicker, but you did that time effectively from the midfield, a great lap.

FA: Yeah, the lap was very good. I was very, very happy when I crossed the line. I think the track was a little bit worse at the beginning. We saw yesterday, clearly, that the track was very bad at the beginning and today also. Starting in tenth position is not fantastic but it was my result from yesterday and next time I will try to do a little bit better on Friday.

Q: So how much was it worth to have that home crowd behind you?

FA: It helps a lot to be here and watch all these people in the grandstand, it's a great motivation for a driver. I hope tomorrow to do a fantastic race here.

Q: There were a lot of blue flags; were they Renault flags or something else?

FA: No, it's my home city flag but they are very similar compared to Renault and when you look at both flags you cannot see if it's my home flag or Renault. This year I have the car with my colours and it's fine.

Q: Michael, tell us about your expectations for this race: did you really think the pole was on with a brand new car like this?

MS: Honestly we knew that there was a good opportunity for us, yes, because the car is better than last year's car. We have been achieving pole positions with last year's car so naturally you think, on a circuit like Barcelona where the car counts for so much in relation to some other circuits, that this should be a good opportunity.

Q: Tell us about your thoughts for the race? It's a difficult circuit in terms of tyres, temperatures...

MS: It's a circuit where the heat comes on and the tyres take a significant dive and you slide a lot, so it's an issue where you simply have to control everything in a way to get consistent lap times and not overdo it and overstress your tyres and then maybe suffer at some stage.

Continued in part two.